Going Home

By Gonz Blinko

Blind Christian exclaimed, “Death rejected us!  Now that’s funny!”  He then burst into uncontrollable laughter.  Every time the laughter would seem to subside, he’d start right up again.  He had fallen into absolute hysterics and, watching him, I couldn’t help keep myself from laughing as well.

After what seemed like a long time, BC, panting, said, “I just have this image of Death, the guy with the cloak and sickle coming to reap our souls, taking a look at us and just saying, ‘eoowwww, wrong house,’ like that Jehovah’s Witness did when we ate all of those mushrooms and I thought that the living room window had eaten Bradley,” he exclaimed before bursting back into deep belly laughs.

“I remember that day,” I said between guffaws, “We thought we blew up the Space Shuttle with our minds!”  I continued to laugh.

We continued laughing, gasping for breath and repeating stories about times when people other than the Grim Reaper found us too weird or disgusting or ugly or whatever to be near.  I can say, for certain, that no Calusa had ever predicted that their midden would host a pair of middle aged blind freaks laughing hysterically over the fact that they outlived so many of their friends.  “Survivors guilt be gone!”  I pronounced in my best impersonation of a southern preacher while I placed my hand on BC’s sweaty head.

We climbed out of the midden and walked back to the campsite.

“What has you guys so merry?” Asked Caroline.

“Gonz?” asked Samhara, “What’s going on?  You guys find some funny plants out there?”

BC and I started laughing again.  He said, “We found the solution to my existential crisis – Death has good taste!”

BC and I started laughing again, Samhara walked away to make some espresso and Caroline asked, “What are you guys talking about?”

After some more laughter, I added, “You won’t understand, you had to be there twenty five years ago…”

BC grabbed his laptop which had its batteries charged in Samhara’s house boat.  “It’s incredible, in the two weeks since we got here, I think I counted about a total of five boats passing.  This spot, remote as possible, has solid wireless broadband.  America is a great country.”

I went into the tent Caroline and I shared and she followed.  What followed for us shall remain private.  Samhara went fishing.

“So, what did you find in your email?”  I asked BC a while later as Samhara fried some snook for dinner.

“A pile of inquiries about jobs,” BC said somewhat embarrassed after falling into an existential crisis over his employment situation.

“Anything interesting,” I asked.

“Lots of very cool sounding things from friends, friends of friends and even people I never heard of.”

“Anything worth exploring immediately?”

“One offers a trip to New York to discuss an education project.  I called the guy on Skype and he’s sending plane tickets.”

“Sounds cool,” I added.

“Gonz?”  BC Asked.


“I’m going home…”


I hope BC readers have enjoyed the fictitious trip Blind Christian and the gang made into the western Everglades.  I had fun working with some material from Karl Hiaasen’s latest book, “Nature Girl” and playing around with an absurdist view of an existential query.  I would like to remind readers that the stories written by Gonz Blinko come from my creative writing side and in no way represent actual facts.  The characters are, for the most part, loosely based upon me but all take odd personal characteristics and amplify them into a combination of archetypes or absurdist exaggerations of anything resembling reality.

The Blind Christian character most closely represents the “real” Chris Hofstader but the emotional outbursts and peculiar behaviors are exaggerated to an extreme that isn’t actually like the way I really act or think.  When I write that character, I take odd notions that I think up and explode them into an enormous magnification of the original thought.  Writing this way is a lot of fun and functions in a manner similar to that of the real Hunter S. Thompson and other “new fiction writers, including authors like Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe and, to some extent, the late genius, Truman Capote.  I can only wish I could write prose that even resembles the works by these greats but I have fun with the technical aspects of their writing and enjoy making this blog.

Finally, the real me has actually received a pile of employment related inquiries lately.  I will be traveling to New York to discuss a really cool gig involving math and science education for blind students and will travel to India at the end of April to do some consulting for a US company.  I’m not entirely certain how many hours per week my health will permit but I’m going to explore a lot and try to figure out if my exile from gainful employment will soon come to an end.

On the avocational side, I’ve been doing a survey of off-the-shelf GPS/navigational software for Windows Mobile 5 based Smartphones.  So far, I’ve looked at Copilot Live, Destinator and Wayfinder Navigator (not the soon to be released Wayfinder/Access but the regular version used by sighted people).  I have about 20 more to go so, when I have a more complete survey completed, look for a Blind Confidential article comparing and contrasting how well each works with Mobile Speak Smartphone.

— End

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Too Old to Die Young

By Gonz Blinko

“Hey Gonz!”  I heard Blind Christian call.  He hadn’t spoken for about three days so I wondered what he wanted.  

Samhara said that BC had eaten some of the kebabs she made out of the bull shark and would come into the camp site for the odd bottle of water but he remained silent.  She described his activities by saying that he had found himself a place to sit inside a long abandoned Calusa midden and that he spent his time arranging broken bits of oyster shells into something that looked like equations.  Now and then, he would grunt but wouldn’t emit anything resembling a word.

“Gonz, over hear!”  Yelled BC and I started walking toward his voice.  “I’m coming,” I yelled in reply.

I could hear BC making sounds on what seemed like a wall of broken shells and such.  I climbed up and dropped over the other side into BC’s midden.  “What do you want?”  I asked.

“Sit down,” he said.

I poked around until I found a relatively flat surface on which to sit and plunked my ass down.  “So, why are we sitting in a mosquito infested Calusa midden in the middle of nowhere Florida?”

“I would have been very sad if Caroline had been eaten by the shark,” said BC as if he hadn’t heard or was just ignoring my question.

“Me too.  I think I taught her how a blink can tell the difference between a bottle nose dolphin and a bull shark but I think she just gets out of the water as quickly as possible when she starts hearing the big fish jumping.  So, you’ve never said, do you like Caroline?”

BC went quiet for a few moments and then said, “I can’t say that I know her well enough to form an opinion.  She seems pleasant enough.  I’m just sick of our friends, our crowd, and our heroes dying young, dying violently, killing themselves or just dying all of the time.  It’s like death follows us around, Gonz.”

“I know what you mean BC,” I added, “I completely lost it with memories in front of CBGB a few months ago.”

“So, why did so many of my heroes commit suicide?”

I thought for a second and had no answer, “I suppose they all had their own reasons.”

“I’ve had my reasons but never succeeded; now I’m just a loudmouth blink with a blog.”

“You’ve done some good stuff…”  I started.

“What of our entire generation of greatly wasted minds will last?  This midden we’re sitting in is thousands of years old.  The most clever software on Earth is obsolete in two or three years.  Who is going to read Blind Confidential in a few months if we stopped writing it?  Nothing we do matters for a shit and it never did.”

“Samhara says you’ve been doing math with oyster shells,” I said trying to change the subject.

“All around this area, everything, the mangroves, the trailer parks, the houses, everything got rearranged in the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, the Calusa built this midden as a shelter from hurricanes and a thousand years, maybe longer, it’s still here and if a hurricane showed up today we could ride it out, albeit uncomfortably, in this spot.”

“Really?”  I asked, not knowing much about these oyster shell piles.

“With all of the 20th century technology, half of New Orleans is still missing nearly two years after a single storm but these walls that surround us showed up on this island before the Spanish got to Florida.  The Calusa may have died off from European diseases but their engineering will outlive us all.  We, on the other hand, will leave nothing behind but Styrofoam and radioactive waste.”

“That’s pretty depressing BC.”

“Sometimes I wish I had died with the others when we were still young.  Sure, live fast, die young – boy I fucked up part two.”

“That’s silly BC, lots of people still know you, still respect you, still read your stuff, still call you for advice…” I started in trying to cheer up my oldest friend.

“Who gives a shit?”  BC exclaimed, “No one will hire me for a real job, all of my best stuff was done in the past, I’m just an old recovering junky blink with a blog.  

“And,” BC continued with his rant, “Why didn’t we die with the others?  You and me Gonz, we did all the drugs, all of the violence, all of the trippy travel to fucked up parts of the planet, ran with dangerous motherfuckers, stuck needles in our arms filled with god-knows-what in some outback in places we forgot we visited and, unlike the lucky ones, we’re still breathing!

“What’s wrong with us?”  He yelled as he kicked at his oyster shell equations.

I sat quietly, it wasn’t the first death wish rant I’d heard out of BC and it probably wouldn’t be the last.

He continued, “Look at me, I’m hiding in an ancient structure and I can’t remember what I’m hiding from.  I’m not getting any younger and I still don’t know what to do when I grow up.  Why didn’t someone shoot me back when I could have left a young and relatively good looking corpse?

“Why did people revive me every fucking time I OD’d?

“Why couldn’t I just have collapsed like Coltrane at 40 years old?”

BC rambled on like that for another half hour or so.  I finally started to get pissed off.  I jumped up and grabbed BC by his shoulders and kicked him in the back of one of his knees knocking him down to the floor of our ancient shelter.

“You really wanna know why we lived and the others didn’t?”  I yelled.

Panting and surprised by my quick take down, BC said, “Yeah, why?”

“Because death rejected us.”

— End

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Sexuality and Disability/Life in Paradise

In the disability community, discussion of sexuality seems far more taboo than in mainstream culture.  “Sex in the City” never featured a blink or a crip, even the show on taboos on the Sundance Channel never included people with disabilities but I do have one old friend who subscribes to a very obscure pornographic publication called “Amputee Update,” which, as the title implies, features people who have had limbs removed participating in all sorts of kink for the pleasure of its readers.  Most organized gatherings of adults with disabilities also try to prohibit any romantic interludes between attendees, typically segregate dormitories by gender and sometimes even scold adults of opposite sexes for being alone together.

The organizations that have dormitories, guide dog schools, independent living centers and other similar places say that, although their students are adults, that gender segregation and discouraging romance helps maintain order within the group and prevents rumors, jealousies and other nasty behaviors on behalf of the students.  Having spent a month in guide dog school last June, I can understand why the staff would do almost anything to minimize internal conflict as their jobs come with about as much stress as one can imagine and adding more cannot possibly help the situation.  On the other hand, the students must be adults to come to the school and romance and sexuality are part of being a grown-up.

This week, there will be lots of adults with disabilities attending the CSUN conference in Los Angeles (BC did not go as he and his crew are still hiding in the Everglades and sent in this report via satellite Internet – Gonz).  These adults will have no supervision.  The people at the Marriott, Hilton and other hotels really do not care who sleeps with whom.  Why, then, do mainstream venues treat people with disabilities more like grown-ups than facilities specifically set up for us?

The other day, I received an email from Isaac Goldstein, a reader of BC who is also web manager for American Sexuality Magazine.  He wrote to tell me about a special issue they have published on sexuality and disability.  The following is the majority of the note he sent me with links to some very provocative articles about this seemingly taboo subject.

American Sexuality Magazine is proud to announce the following articles:

1. User’s Manual for the Paralyzed Penis: Love after spinal cord injury
By Tre Trefethen

2.  Freak Fucker: Sexuality and disability in British art
By Ronda Gowland

3.  A video on a art show of nudes, created by people with developmental disabilities, by Joyce Nishioka. It’s up on YouTube here:

4.  A summary of our special Disability and Sexuality issue of our
Sexuality Research and Social Policy Journal.

You can reach the journal directly here. The official launch of the
Journal new issue will be next Monday:

5)  And last but not least, two reprints from BENT magazine:

– One on a guy who was chubby as a youngster, lost weight, became a beautiful gay man, and then lost his hand:

Another on a guy from Scotland who as a disabled man didn’t fit into any gender stereotype, denied his sexuality, and discovered he was gay in his middle ages.

Isaac Goldstein
Web Manager
National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC)
San Francisco State University
2017 Mission Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94110
e: isaacg@sfsu.edu

By Gonz Blinko

We’re still stuck on a mosquito infested oyster bar that pretends to be an island off of the western edge of the Everglades.  I have an entirely new respect for the Calusa tribes as they lived in this area for 20,000 years or more without having invented Deet.  I must admit that the sun feels nice and the ocean breezes make one a bit more comfortable than otherwise and we do have good coffee from Samhara’s espresso machine so life could go far worse.

Blind Christian, after calling this excursion “a lifestyle decision,” refuses to talk about anything but fishing.  He rambles on endlessly about the relative merits of one color of plastic shrimp versus another.  He’s boring the hell out of all of us.

“Hey look,” exclaimed Caroline, “It’s Flipper!”

I’ve had enough experience with dolphins to ignore her call but the X-Dog wanted to find out about the excitement and ran into the water near her.

Suddenly, I heard gunshots firing toward the water.  “Christian!?!  What the fuck are you doing?!?”  I yelled assuming our leader had gone completely around the bend.

“Get the fuck out of the water!” I heard Samhara yell, followed by a few more blasts from what sounded like a 9 millimeter.

“What?” Yelled Caroline.

“It’s ok, I got it,” yelled an exasperated Samhara.  

“Why did you shoot Flipper?” Cried Caroline, now in tears.

“Dolphins have horizontal tail fins, that animal had a vertical one,” explained Samhara.

“And…?” Asked Caroline.

“You were trying to swim with a fucking bull shark you bimbo!”  Continued Samhara, “Gonz, teach your girlfriend how not to get killed please.  She almost got your dog killed too.”

I sat up and sighed.  Just another day in paradise…

— End

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Hiding in the Glades (Fiction)

By Gonz Blinko

“Coming into Miami, F L A,
Hitchhiked his way across the USA,
Plugged his eyebrows on the way,
Shaved his legs…

“Take a walk on the wild side…

“And the colored girls go,
“Do Da Do Da do,” I sang as Caroline, my phone sex chick and I got off the plane from the frozen north.  I didn’t quite know why Blind Christian wanted me in Florida when all of the hipsters and cool folks went to the LAX Marriott but skipping CSUN is no problem for me and maybe we can get some fishing in.

All I knew was that Samhara had sent a cryptic note about BC going into hiding and that she was to send me e-tickets to Miami.  I insisted on bringing the new babe and her, the X-Animal and I strolled up the jet way to meet her there.

“Gonz!” I heard the familiar voice of my attorney. “Over here!”

“Over where?” I mumbled and took a few steps forward through the crowd of people speaking seemingly every language other than English.  A few more steps and I felt Sam’s strong arms embrace me.  I reminded my African Amazon to greet Caroline which she did with a grunt.

“What’s going on with Blind Christian?”  I asked.

“He’s holed up in my house boat over in the Glades, armed to the teeth and is on the phone with his legal and PR team all day and night.  He doesn’t sleep and he screams out with paranoid outbursts all of the time.”

“What brought this on?”  I continued as we got onto the elevator.

“I got us a Lincoln Town Car,” Samhara interjected.

“Cool!” added Caroline.

“What brought on this collapse by BC?” I pushed.

“I’ll tell you in the car.”

As soon as we stepped out of the elevator into the parking lot, the lovely Florida weather hit us hard.  I still had on my Eddie Bauer parka and a fleece hat so I didn’t exactly dress for the Glades.  “Did we pack for warm weather,” I asked Caroline.

“Mosquito suits and all,” she responded.

“She’s smarter than she looks,” added Samhara as she unlocked the trunk to the Town Car and started tossing in our luggage.

We hopped in the car and started heading west.  Samhara had a reggae CD playing and Caroline lit up a bowl of chronic.  I didn’t want to smoke until I found out what flipped BC’s switch this time.  I also wanted to know how ugly it had gotten.

“So, what about BC?”

“He did that interview with Backcess Globe,” said Samhara with a sigh.

“He does interviews all the time,” I replied.

“He talked for three hours.”

“So, everyone knows he has diarrhea of the mouth.”

“It got edited down to about six paragraphs.”

“Lemme guess, they were pretty controversial paragraphs?”

“Even Mr. Hunter got pissed this time.”


After smoking a couple of bowls and finding my mind in a state where another of BC’s self-destructive, emotional wig outs might not seem too freaky, I relaxed a bit and enjoyed the ride and the Peter Tosh CD.  Caroline got all chatty and started babbling to Samhara about nothing in particular and Sam would grunt on occasion.  We got off of Alligator Alley at Everglades City and drove to a parking lot at a marina.

“Uh, where are we?”  I asked.

“The boat dock.”

“Is the house boat here?”

“No, a skiff, I have the boat moored out hidden among the 10,000 Islands, BC insisted.”

“Are there really 10,000 of them?” asked Caroline.

Ignoring her, “So, BC has you hiding your house boat somewhere in the actual wilderness?”

“He’s really nuts this time.”

“And how exactly am I supposed to help?”

“He says you’re the only one he can trust.  You and Hunter but he’s off in Central America on a very secret mission.”

“Trust me to do what?”  I asked as we stepped into the 22 foot center console.

“And what about me?”  Asked Caroline.

“I’m not sure.”

“This is going to suck…” I added.

I love fishing and the Florida outdoors but I also like being near a Starbucks and other life affirming signs of civilization.  The little island where the house boat was hidden would be overstated if we called it rustic.  This was as it had been left when the Calusa had abandoned it.  There were a lot of snook popping bait though which meant both the catch and release and the table fare would be excellent.  Over the roar of the Mercury outboard, I heard what was distinctly a rifle shot as we pulled toward our hide away.

Samhara cut the engine to idle and flipped on her loudspeaker.  It’s just Samhara, Gonz and girlfriend!”

“Prove it,” yelled someone from the little island and I heard another rifle shot that sounded like it was in our direction.

“BC, its Gonz, if you don’t stop shooting at us I will have to really fuck you up!”  I yelled into the microphone as I grabbed a Glock 9 from Sam’s storage hatch.  I really didn’t want to kill BC but I wasn’t too keen on getting my own ass shot either.

“Ok, ok,” yelled BC, “I believe you.”

As I stepped off the bow of the skiff the X-Dog jumped into the shallows and started splashing around like a puppy.  Caroline jumped in to play with the dog and Samhara tied up the skiff.

“So, why are we spending CSUN in hiding?” I asked BC.

“Isn’t this more pleasant than LA?”

“Yes, but we’re not making any money here,” I added.

“Who needs money when you’ve got snook and a G. Loomis rod?”

“Seriously, what’s going on?”

Samhara and Caroline decided to play in the water with the X-Dude so I might be able to extract something of what was going on from BC.  Samhara told me in the car that he starts to rant and then trails off and talks about soft plastic shrimp and the perfect twitch to catch snookies.

“Really Christian, what’s going on?  Why in hell are we in hiding?”

“Who’s hiding,” he replied.

“Let me see, we’re in the 10,000 islands when we’re supposed to be in LA.  We’re either in or at the edge of the National Park.  We’re heavily armed, loaded with chronic and weighted down with fishing gear and enough Deet to last the Marines for a few seasons in the jungle.  We’re dug in, this ain’t camping, it’s hiding.”  I tried to explain.

“Maybe it’s a lifestyle decision,” inserted BC.

“A what?”  I asked incredulously.

To be continued…


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St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I probably disappoint but do not surprise my Catholic School teachers when I publicly admit my lack of memory of why and how St. Patrick received his beatification.  Digging deep into the crevasses of my brain, I seem to recall that the story contained serpents and some kind of Pied Piper who led them out of Ireland.  I do not believe that St. Patrick also drove the children out of the island country but I can’t think of too many other details.  Perhaps, if St. Paddy was one of the “black Irish” he could be played by Samuel L. in the movie who could exclaim, “I’m tired of these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking island!”

On March 2 of this year, I celebrated my tenth full year without a drink of alcohol.  To say the least, I didn’t quit drinking because the nightly routine at the bar had grown exceedingly fun but I’ll leave it there and anyone who wants to talk about my history with booze and illicit drugs can write or call me privately and I’ll do anything within my power to help them if they think they might have a problem.  I will say one thing, if you think you may have a problem, you probably do.

Thus, St. Patrick’s Day, for me, has lost its luster.  My memories of the day, having lived in New York and Boston, two cities with enormous Irish/American populations and huge parades and celebrations every March 17, recall what we serious drinkers would refer to as “amateur hour.”  

St. Paddy’s day meant that a bunch of yahoos from the suburbs would invade the city and fill the bars where we typically sat and drank ourselves into oblivion and order peculiar things like green beer (typically luke warm Bud Light with food coloring in it) and drink until they felt it necessary to vomit on my shoes.  Green beer vomit punctuated by chunks of corned beef and cabbage on one’s footwear is by no means a classy fashion statement.  

Of course, we “full time” drinkers couldn’t miss a night at the bar so we’d sit in our appointed stools, complain about the part timers but tolerate the submersion in the revelry of the projectile vomitter drinking green Bud Light from a yard glass.  Sometimes, we’d remember to wear our LL Bean duck boots as they typically made the cleaning process easier than more standard footwear which we would damage if we just hosed them off.

Other than memories of hosing puke off my boots, I only remember St. Patrick’s Day for coinciding with the NCAA Basketball Tournament which I am enjoying this year far more than I would be if I had continued drinking.  In my years off the sauce, I can actually remember which teams are playing, their relative rankings and the score of the game.  With the Internet, I can have one game on television and the rest easily available by streaming audio so I can jump to the one I find most interesting very quickly.  Thus, when Florida, the team I want to win the whole thing, jumps out to a huge lead and the game gets boring, I can switch from the game CBS thinks I would find interesting to a closer match elsewhere.  I do admit, though, that this year’s tournament, with the exception of Duke and the hated Notre Dame going down to defeat, little of true excitement, in terms of outcomes, has occurred this year.  

Go Gators!

— End

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My Access World Interview and Ted Henter’s Rebuttal

Below, I have copied in a rebuttal Ted Henter, my good friend and former boss, wrote regarding the interview with me published in this month’s Access World (see link above).  Almost everything Ted says is true, I did a three hour interview with Deborah and it was reduced to a handful of paragraphs so a lot of things I said did not make the final article in Access World.  

I didn’t realize the article was going to be so short and don’t blame Deborah for including only the most controversial statements as that makes for the juiciest reading but I do wish that a greater level of the background information I told her could have made it in.  This was my bad for not asking about the number of words she would be writing and for my tendency to rant on endlessly when given a captive audience.  People who know me will tell you that they have often looked for a CONTROL key on me somewhere so they could just shut me up and, one friend in particular, likes to say, “right shift,” to get me to fast forward to the point at hand.  I blabber on endlessly when given the chance.

Also, Ted is absolutely correct about my lack of knowledge of the industry’s history prior to my joining Henter-Joyce back in 1998.

There are a few details in Ted’s article which I disagree or feel would have been better understood if the Access World article had included more of the details I had expressed while talking to Deborah on the phone; but, like Ted, I don’t want to bore the readers with the details of the editing process and will leave things where they stand and move on from this debate.

One issue, to which I will respond, however, is that there is a higher incidence of RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome among blind people than in the population at large.  This is being studied at a number of universities and I refer to it as “Screen Reader Syndrome” in earlier blog posts.

Finally, I had no intention of hurting the feelings of or denigrating the work performed by any individuals employed in the AT industry.  My statements were directed toward the businesses themselves and not their employees who I agree do a tremendous job working hard to deliver the best products they can.  I had hoped to shed some light on what I believe is the fact that the big AT companies can afford to spend more on quality and innovation than they currently do.  My statements were addressed at corporate priorities and not directed at the individuals who carry them out and I’m sorry this sentiment didn’t come out more clearly in the Access World article.  If you are one of these people, feel free to write or call me and I’d be happy to explain further why it’s not your work or you personally with that I am critical.

In closing, I have a tremendous level of respect for Ted (any BC reader should know this and, if one searches back issues on Ted’s name, they will find a large number of statements celebrating his great contributions to the blindness biz) and he and I will remain friends as, after all, friendships can withstand and, in fact, can be strengthened by honest debate and disagreement.

The following is Ted’s rebuttal:

Regarding the telephone interview titled “A View from Inside: A Major
Assistive Technology Player Shares Some Industry Secrets” that appeared in the March Access World:

Chris Hofstader may be an “insider”, but his view of and experience with the Assistive Technology “AT” industry is very limited. He was hired by me at Henter-Joyce in the late 1990’s, when Henter-Joyce was riding a wave of success due to the success of JAWS for Windows and the relative lack of competitors. But look around, most of the companies in our industry are not making money.  There was a time when Henter-Joyce did not make money either, about 8 years worth of time (1987-1995). He wasn’t around then.  

He wasn’t there in 1985 when the “investors” locked the doors of MCS, Deane Blazie’s first company, because it was losing their money. He wasn’t there in 1991 when my wife and I borrowed from my parents and re-mortgaged our house so Henter-Joyce could pay its bills. He wasn’t there, or wasn’t paying attention, when fine AT companies or products like Telesensory, Artic, VERT,
PC Talk, Flipper, Outspoken, and others went out of business. Did their
Owners and investors shut down the companies because they were making too much money?

The Access World article states “Then, adding together all the software development people at all the leading screen-reading software companies, he argued that the profit is about 10 times the cost to the companies.”  Are developers the only people that work for these companies? Are they the only ones that get paid? What about the software testers, technical support people, sales people, accountants, shippers, janitors, Board members, and rent? His claims such as “profit is about 10 times the cost,” “10x margin,” and “that’s fairly obscene” are simply ridiculous.

Regarding a PDA with a Braille display, Chris claims that it “costs about $700” to produce. This is another ridiculous claim. He is wrong about many other things in this article: I don’t want to bore the reader with all the details.

I also take exception to his comment that “as a blind person, Hofstader maintained, he needed to work longer hours and perform hundreds of keystrokes to parallel the far fewer mouse clicks of his sighted colleagues.” I am blind and don’t have this issue, and I’ve worked with many very successful and productive blind people and have never heard this complaint from any of them either. His departure from Freedom Scientific was not due to forced labor, as he suggests, nor was it a simple retirement as he states.

In closing, I’d like to say to my friend Chris Hofstader that it saddens me
to see him attack the people, including many dedicated blind and low vision individuals, that work hard every day to level the playing field for those that are blind or low vision.


Ted Henter
Board Member, Freedom Scientific
Co-founder and President, Henter-Joyce
Founder and President, Henter Math


As I stated in a BC post a little while back, I struggle to maintain any reasonable level of objectivity when it comes to discussing screen readers and I promised not to wade into the screen access wars any longer.  I will state for the record that I use JAWS for more than 90% of my screen reading tasks and feel it is the most powerful, flexible and, for my purposes, usable screen reader ever produced.

I believe my Access World interview and Ted’s well considered comments also demonstrate that I may not have the greatest view of the AT industry, its history or the details of its finances.  Some of these issues come up in my “Main Menu” interview which includes many things that got excluded in the AW article and, in my opinion, gives a better picture of my views on the biz.

I think I will focus BC and my other public statements more on future oriented issues, my fiction and less on criticism.  When I read other blindness related blogs, Jeff Bishop, Daryl and Ranger, I hear less anger than I do in my own writing.  I’m not sure which style does a better job for the community at large but I’m starting to see that it would probably be simpler for me to take a kinder and gentler approach which will result in less anxiety for yours truly and, perhaps, a more entertaining and informative blog for my readers.

Don’t worry, though, I won’t start being nice to Apple any time soon .


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Loves We Shared, An Obituary

In a relatively recent Blind Confidential article I wrote that my father-in-law, Tony Vecchione, had fallen victim to a freak automotive accident and into a coma resulting from his head injuries.  In the time since then, the medical decision was made by his doctors and family to remove him from life support and he passed away.  My wife Susan and I just got back from Boston where we attended his memorial service.  I would like to thank all of the BC readers who sent us notes of support and friendship during this difficult time.

When I think of Tony Vecchione, my late father-in-law, I think of the loves we shared.  More than anything else, we deeply love his daughter and my wife Susan.  Each year, Tony and my mother-in-law Betty would spend a few weeks here in Florida visiting us and avoiding the Massachusetts winters.  We had already started planning to see them this month when Tony had his accident.  I will miss hearing him interact with Susan, demonstrating his great affection in nearly everything he did with her.

One of Tony’s most prized possessions was a photograph of a six year old Susan beside a grouper as big as she which she had caught that day.  Tony and I shared a love for fishing, especially in Florida.  I remember the day when I put him on his first redfish and how he seemed as excited as a little kid as the big shouldered fish yanked out line and made his reel scream.  Of course, Susan caught about four times as many fish as Tony and I combined and he cheered her on with each one.

After that day fishing the Miguel Bay area, we returned to the house he and Betty and he had rented for their winter vacation.  Betty took the redfish filets and prepared an amazing Cajun style blackened sea food dinner.  Tony and I very much love Betty’s cooking.  Her skills in the kitchen rival those of any great chef and over the past twenty years, I enjoyed many, many meals at their table.

I could go on with many more things we both loved.  Jazz, for instance, was a passion we shared.  Tony loved the Dixie and Big Band music, I preferred Miles and Coltrane but the sound of jazz brought joy to both of us.  We shared a passion for left wing politics and for the ideals of fighting discrimination and hoping for social justice.  We both loved the Boston Red Sox and we both got to experience the once in a lifetime joy of watching our team actually win a World Series.  We shared many more loves as well.

Tony Vecchione was 77 years old but was in terrific health and was highly energetic.  This freak accident actually caused us to think he may be the first person we could describe as having died young while in his late seventies.  Susan and I will miss him greatly as will the rest of his family and his large number of friends.

— End

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